Gurdwara
Overview
 
A Gurdwara meaning the Gateway to the Guru
Guru
A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others . Other forms of manifestation of this principle can include parents, school teachers, non-human objects and even one's own intellectual discipline, if the...

, is the place of worship
Place of worship
A place of worship or house of worship is an establishment or her location where a group of people comes to perform acts of religious study, honor, or devotion. The form and function of religious architecture has evolved over thousands of years for both changing beliefs and architectural style...

 for Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s, the followers of Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

. A Gurdwara can be identified from a distance by tall flagpoles bearing the Nishan Sahib
Nishan Sahib
The Nishan Sahib is a Sikh holy triangular flag made of cotton or silk cloth, with a tassel at its end. The word, Nishan means symbol, and the flag is hoisted on a tall flagpole, outside most Gurudwaras. The flagpole itself covered with fabric, ends with a two-edged dagger on top...

 (the Sikh flag, see image at lower right).

The most well-known gurdwara of the Sikhs is the Harmandir Sahib
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

 in Amritsar
Amritsar
Amritsar is a city in the northern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering 3,695,077...

, Punjab
Punjab (India)
Punjab ) is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 (see image at right).
The first gurdwara was built in Kartarpur, on the banks of Ravi River
Ravi River
The Ravi is a trans-boundary river flowing through Northwestern India and eastern Pakistan. It is one of the six rivers of the Indus System in Punjab region ....

 in the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 region by the first Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the year 1521.
Encyclopedia
A Gurdwara meaning the Gateway to the Guru
Guru
A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others . Other forms of manifestation of this principle can include parents, school teachers, non-human objects and even one's own intellectual discipline, if the...

, is the place of worship
Place of worship
A place of worship or house of worship is an establishment or her location where a group of people comes to perform acts of religious study, honor, or devotion. The form and function of religious architecture has evolved over thousands of years for both changing beliefs and architectural style...

 for Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s, the followers of Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

. A Gurdwara can be identified from a distance by tall flagpoles bearing the Nishan Sahib
Nishan Sahib
The Nishan Sahib is a Sikh holy triangular flag made of cotton or silk cloth, with a tassel at its end. The word, Nishan means symbol, and the flag is hoisted on a tall flagpole, outside most Gurudwaras. The flagpole itself covered with fabric, ends with a two-edged dagger on top...

 (the Sikh flag, see image at lower right).

The most well-known gurdwara of the Sikhs is the Harmandir Sahib
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

 in Amritsar
Amritsar
Amritsar is a city in the northern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering 3,695,077...

, Punjab
Punjab (India)
Punjab ) is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India, forming part of the larger Punjab region. The state is bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast and Rajasthan to the southwest as well as the Pakistani province of Punjab to the...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 (see image at right).

History

The first gurdwara was built in Kartarpur, on the banks of Ravi River
Ravi River
The Ravi is a trans-boundary river flowing through Northwestern India and eastern Pakistan. It is one of the six rivers of the Indus System in Punjab region ....

 in the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 region by the first Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the year 1521. It now lies in the Narowal District
Narowal District
Narowal District is a district in the province of Punjab of Pakistan. Narowal city is the capital of the district. Narowal District is divided into three tehsils: Narowal, Shakargarh and Zafarwal. Before the independence of Pakistan in 1947, Shakargarh town was the headquarters of Shakargarh...

 of west Punjab (Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

).
The worship centers were built as a place where Sikhs could gather to hear the Guru give spiritual discourse and sing religious hymns in the praise of Waheguru
Waheguru
Waheguru is a term most often used in Sikhism to refer to God, the Supreme Being or the creator of all. It means "The Good/Best Teacher" in the Punjabi language. Wahi means "good" and "Guru" is a term denoting "teacher"....

. As the Sikh population continued to grow, Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh guru, introduced the word 'gurdwara'.

The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus
Sikh Gurus
The Sikh Gurus established Sikhism from over the centuries beginning in the year 1469. Sikhism was founded by the first guru, Guru Nanak, and subsequently, all in order were referred to as "Nanak", and as "Lights", making their teachings in the holy scriptures, equivalent...

) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'.
Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
Some of the prominent Sikh Centers established by the Sikh Gurus are:
  • Nankana Sahib
    Nankana Sahib
    Nankana Sahib , earlier known as Rai-Bhoi-Di-Talwandi, is a city in the Pakistani province of Punjab. It is named after the first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev, the central figure in Sikhism who was born here, so it is a city of high historic and religious value and is a popular pilgrimage site...

    , established in 1490s by first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev
    Guru Nanak Dev
    Guru Nanak was the founder of the religion of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. The Sikhs believe that all subsequent Gurus possessed Guru Nanak’s divinity and religious authority, and were named "Nanak" in the line of succession.-Early life:Guru Nanak was born on 15 April 1469, now...

     jee, Punjab, Pakistan.
  • Sultanpur Lodhi
    Sultanpur Lodhi
    Sultanpur Lodhi is a city and a municipal council in Kapurthala district in the Indian state of Punjab. The town is named after its founder, Sultan Khan Lodhi who was a general of Mahmud of Ghazni in AD 1103, which has been also mentioned in Ain-e-Akbari...

    , established in 1499 became the Sikh center during Guru Nanak Dev
    Guru Nanak Dev
    Guru Nanak was the founder of the religion of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. The Sikhs believe that all subsequent Gurus possessed Guru Nanak’s divinity and religious authority, and were named "Nanak" in the line of succession.-Early life:Guru Nanak was born on 15 April 1469, now...

     jee time Kapurthala District, Punjab (India).
  • Kartarpur
    Kartarpur
    Kartarpur , was established by Guru Nanak in 1522. When Guru Nanak died, Hindus and Muslims disagreed on how to perform his last rites. A samadh lies in the Gurudwara and a grave lies on the premises as a reminder of this discord...

     Sahib, established in 1521 by First Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev
    Guru Nanak Dev
    Guru Nanak was the founder of the religion of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. The Sikhs believe that all subsequent Gurus possessed Guru Nanak’s divinity and religious authority, and were named "Nanak" in the line of succession.-Early life:Guru Nanak was born on 15 April 1469, now...

     jee, near River Ravi, Narowal, Punjab, Pakistan.
  • Khadur Sahib, established in 1539 by second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad Dev
    Guru Angad Dev
    Guru Angad Dev Ji was the second of the ten Sikh Gurus. He was born in the village of Sarae Naga in Muktsar district in Punjab, on 31 March 1504 and given the name Lehna shortly after his birth as was the custom of his Hindu parents. He was the son of a small successful trader named Pheru Mal...

     jee, near River Beas, Amritsar District, Punjab, India.
  • Goindwal Sahib
    Sahib
    Sahib is an Urdu term which literally translates to "Owner" or "Proprietor". The primary Arabic meaning of Sahib is "associate, companion, comrade, friend" though it also includes "Sahib is an Urdu term which literally translates to "Owner" or "Proprietor". The primary Arabic meaning of Sahib...

    , established in 1552 by third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das
    Guru Amar Das
    Guru Amar Das was the third of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism and was given the title of Sikh Guru on 26 March 1552.-His life:...

     jee, near River Beas, Amritsar District Punjab, India.
  • Sri Amritsar
    Amritsar
    Amritsar is a city in the northern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering 3,695,077...

    , established in 1577 By fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das
    Guru Ram Das
    Guru Ram Das was the fourth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism and was given the title of Sikh Guru on 30 August 1574.-Early life:Ram Das was born in Lahore, Punjab on 24 September 1534[1] to a Sodhi family of the Khatri clan. His father was Hari Das and his mother Anup Devi. His wife was Bibi Bhani,...

     jee, District Amritsar, Punjab (India).
  • Tarn Taran Sahib
    Tarn Taran Sahib
    Tarn Taran Sahib a city in the Indian state of Punjab. It is the district headquarters and hosts the municipal council of Taran Taran district.-History:Tarn Taran Sahib was founded by the fifth Sikh Guru Shri Guru Arjan Dev Ji...

    , established in 1590 by fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev
    Guru Arjan Dev
    Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the fifth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism. He was born in Goindval, Punjab, India, the youngest son of Guru Ram Das and Bibi Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das. He became the Guru of the Sikhs on 1 September 1581 after the death of his father Guru Ram Das. Guru Arjan died in...

     jee, District Tarn Taran Sahib, Punjab (India).
  • Kartarpur
    Kartarpur
    Kartarpur , was established by Guru Nanak in 1522. When Guru Nanak died, Hindus and Muslims disagreed on how to perform his last rites. A samadh lies in the Gurudwara and a grave lies on the premises as a reminder of this discord...

     Sahib, established in 1594 by fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev
    Guru Arjan Dev
    Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the fifth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism. He was born in Goindval, Punjab, India, the youngest son of Guru Ram Das and Bibi Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das. He became the Guru of the Sikhs on 1 September 1581 after the death of his father Guru Ram Das. Guru Arjan died in...

     jee, near river Beas, Jalandhar District, Punjab (India).
  • Sri Hargobindpur
    Sri Hargobindpur
    Sri Hargobindpur is a city and a municipal council in Gurdaspur district in the Indian state of Punjab. Situated on the banks of the Beas River, the city is also the erstwhile capital of the Ramgarhia Misl.-Demographics:...

    , established by fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev
    Guru Arjan Dev
    Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the fifth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism. He was born in Goindval, Punjab, India, the youngest son of Guru Ram Das and Bibi Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das. He became the Guru of the Sikhs on 1 September 1581 after the death of his father Guru Ram Das. Guru Arjan died in...

     Jee, near river Beas, Gurdaspur District, Punjab (India).
  • Kiratpur Sahib
    Kiratpur Sahib
    Kiratpur also known as Kiratpur Sahib is a town in Rupnagar district, Punjab, India. The town is the location of the Gurdwara Patal Puri where Sikhs take ashes of their dead.-Kiratpur Sahib Town:...

    , established in 1627 by sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind jee, near river Sutlej, Ropar District, Punjab, India.
  • Anandpur Sahib
    Anandpur Sahib
    Anandpur Sahib is a city in Rupnagar district in the state of Punjab, India. Known as "the holy City of Bliss," it is a holy city of the Sikhs and is one of their most important sacred places, closely linked with their religious traditions and history...

    , established in 1665 by ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur jee, near river Sutlej, Punjab, India.
  • Paonta Sahib
    Paonta Sahib
    Paonta Sahib पौंटा साहिब is a small beautiful town in the south of Sirmour district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is an important religious spot for Sikhs and a bustling industrial town...

    , established in 1685 by Tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh
    Guru Gobind Singh
    Guru Gobind Singh is the tenth and last Sikh guru in a sacred lineage of ten Sikh gurus. Born in Patna, Bihar in India, he was also a warrior, poet and philosopher. He succeeded his father Guru Tegh Bahadur as the leader of Sikhs at a young age of nine...

     Jee, near river Yamuna, Himachal Pradesh India.

Gurdwara

Any place where the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

 is installed and treated with due respect according to Sikh Rehat Maryada (the Sikh code of conduct and convention) can be referred to as a gurdwara, whether it is a room in one's own house or a separate building.
The main functions that are carried out in all public gurdwaras on a daily basis include:
  • Shabad Kirtan
    Kirtan
    Kirtan or Kirtana is call-and-response chanting or "responsory" performed in India's devotional traditions. A person performing kirtan is known as a kirtankar. Kirtan practice involves chanting hymns or mantras to the accompaniment of instruments such as the harmonium, tablas, the two-headed...

    : which is the singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib
    Guru Granth Sahib
    Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

    .
  • Paath
    Paath
    Paath or Path, from the Sanskrit patha which means reading or recitation, is, in the religious context, reading or recitation of the holy texts. In Sikhism, it implies daily repetition of scriptural texts from the Guru Granth Sahib.-Background:...

    : which is religious discourse and reading of Gurbani from the Guru Granth Sahib, with its explanations.
  • Sangat
    Sangat (term)
    Sangat is a Sikh term with its origin in the Sanskrit word 'sangh', which means company, fellowship and association. In Sikh vocabulary, the word has a special connotation. It stands for the body of men and women who meet religiously, especially in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib...

     and Pangat: which is a free community kitchen as a langar for all visitors, irrespective of religious, regional, cultural, racial, caste or class affiliations.


Along with these main functions, the gurdwaras around the world also serve the Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 community in many other ways including, libraries of Sikh literature, schools to teach children Gurmukhi (Sikh script), the Sikh scriptures
Sikh scriptures
The principal Sikh scripture is the Adi Granth , more commonly called the Guru Granth Sahib. The Sikhs do not regard this as their "holy book" but as their perpetual and current "Guru", Guide or Master...

 and charitable work in the wider community on behalf of Sikhs.

There are no idol
Idol
An idol is an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed or any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion.More specific terms include:Worship...

s, statues, or religious pictures in a gurdwara, but the essential feature of a gurdwara is the presiding presence of the holy book and the eternal Sikh Guru, the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

. The Sikhs hold high respect for the teachings and commandments laid down in the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

.

A gurdwara has a darbar (main) hall, a free community kitchen called a langar, and some other facilities. A gurdwara is identified from a distance by tall flag-poles bearing the Nishan Sahib
Nishan Sahib
The Nishan Sahib is a Sikh holy triangular flag made of cotton or silk cloth, with a tassel at its end. The word, Nishan means symbol, and the flag is hoisted on a tall flagpole, outside most Gurudwaras. The flagpole itself covered with fabric, ends with a two-edged dagger on top...

, the Sikh flag (see photo).
Many of the historical gurdwaras associated with the lives of the Sikh Gurus have a sarovar (eco-friendly pool) attached for bathing.

The Sikh marriage ceremony, called Anand Karaj
Anand Karaj
Anand Karaj is the Sikh marriage ceremony, meaning "Blissful Union" or "Joyful Union", that was introduced by Guru Amar Das. The four Lavan were composed by his successor, Guru Ram Das...

 is performed inside a gurdwara. Sikhs also perform some of the rites of their death ceremony (Antam Sanskar
Antam Sanskar
"Antam" or "Antim" mean Final or Last. "Sanskar" means ritual, rite, ceremony, service.In Sikhism death is considered a natural process and God's will or Hukam...

) within the gurdwara. It is also the main focal point of most of the important Sikh Festivals, with the exception of Nagar Kirtan
Nagar Kirtan
Nagar Kirtan is a Sikh custom involving the processional singing of holy hymns throughout a community. While practiced at any time, it is customary in the month of Vaisakhi. Traditionally, the procession is led by the saffron-robed Panj Piare , who are followed by the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh...

, which is a Sikh processional singing of holy hymns throughout a community; however; it does begin and conclude at a gurdwara.

Etiquette

Gurdwaras are open to everyone, regardless of faith or nationality. Visitors are expected to remove the shoes and cover one's bare head with a Dastar (turban), or a piece of cloth, as signs of respect towards the sovereignty of the Guru Granth Sahib. Hands are washed and in some gurdwaras, there is also a place for washing of feet. Visitors are forbidden to go into the gurdwara while they are inebriated or possess alcohol
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

, cigarettes or any intoxicating substances, since intoxicants are prohibited in Sikhism.
Devotees sit cross-legged on the floor as a sign of discipline and obedience. On entering the hall, devotees walk slowly and respectfully to the main throne (called the takht), on which the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

 rests. Devotees then stand before the holy scriptures, often say a silent prayer, then bow down and touch the floor, as a sign of further respect towards the eternal Sikh Guru. Offerings of cash are usually made at this time, to help carry the expenses of running the gurdwara and community work carried out by the gurdwara. These offerings are voluntary and not compulsory.

All people, irrespective of their status, sit on the floor as a sign of equality and the Guru Granth Sahib is always installed on a higher level. One may enter or leave the congregation at any time.
All people are expected to stand facing the Guru Granth Sahib when the Ardas
Ardas
The Ardās is a Sikh prayer that is done before performing or after undertaking any significant task; after reciting the daily Banis ; or completion of a service like the Paath , kirtan program or any other religious program. In Sikhism, these prayers are also said before and after eating...

 (prayer) is read out.

Customs

Many gurdwaras are designed to seat men on one side and women on the other, although designs vary, and the divided seating is far from mandatory. They do not generally sit together but on separate sides of the room, both at an equal distance from the Guru Granth Sahib, as a sign of equality. Worshippers are offered Karah Parshad
Karah Parshad
In Sikhism, Karah Parshad is a type of Semolina halva made with equal portions of semolina, butter, and sugar. It is offered to all visitors to the Darbar Sahib in a Gurdwara. It is regarded as food blessed by the Guru and should not be refused. As it has a very high sugar and oil content, visitors...

 (sweet flour and oil-based food offered as prashad) in the worship hall, which is usually given into cupped hands by a sewadar
Sewadar
Sewadar is a Punjabi word for a volunteer who offers his/her services to a Gurdwara or to the Sikh community free of charge. It is a term used to refer to a person who performs sewa without looking for any physical or spiritual reward or any payment of any kind...

 (Gurdwara volunteer).

In the langar room, food is cooked and served by the volunteers in the community. Only vegetarian food is served in the langar hall, to suit the visitors from different backgrounds so that no person may be offended. All people belonging to different faiths sit together to share a common meal, irrespective of any dietary restrictions. Langar is always served to the sangat
Sangat (term)
Sangat is a Sikh term with its origin in the Sanskrit word 'sangh', which means company, fellowship and association. In Sikh vocabulary, the word has a special connotation. It stands for the body of men and women who meet religiously, especially in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib...

 (the congregation) sitting on the floor, as equality amongst all members of the community is a basic tenet of Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

. The main philosophy behind the Langar is two-fold : to provide training to engage in Seva and an opportunity to serve people from all walks of life and to help banish all distinctions between high and low or rich and poor.

Gurdwara Architecture

Unlike the places of worship in some other religious systems, gurdwara buildings do not have to conform to any set architectural design. The only established requirements are: the installation of the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

, under a canopy or in a canopied seat, usually on a platform higher than the specific floor on which the devotees sit, and a tall Sikh pennant flag atop the building.
Lately, more and more gurdwaras have been having buildings imitating more or less the Harimandir Sahib pattern, a synthesis of Indo-Persian and Sikh architecture. Most of them have square halls, stand on a higher plinth, have entrances on all four sides, and have square or octagonal domed sanctums usually in the middle. During recent decades, to meet the requirements of larger gatherings, bigger and better ventilated assembly halls, with the sanctum at one end, have become accepted style. The location of the sanctum, more often than not, is such as to allow space for circumambulation. Sometimes, to augment the space, verandah
Verandah
A veranda or verandah is a roofed opened gallery or porch. It is also described as an open pillared gallery, generally roofed, built around a central structure...

s are built to skirt the hall. A popular model for the dome is the ribbed lotus, topped by an ornamental pinnacle. Arched copings, kiosk
Kiosk
Kiosk is a small, separated garden pavilion open on some or all sides. Kiosks were common in Persia, India, Pakistan, and in the Ottoman Empire from the 13th century onward...

s and solid domelets are used for exterior decorations.

Meditating on the Holy Scriptures

It is the duty of all Sikhs to engage in personal and communal meditation, Kirtan and the study of the holy Scriptures. Meditating and understanding of the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

 is important for the proper moral and spiritual development of a Sikh. One must study Gurmukhi and be able to read Gurbani and understand the meaning of the text. The Sikh has to revert back to the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

 for the all spiritual guidance in ones life.

Holy Congregation (Sadh Sangat) and Reflecting on Gurbani

It is believed that a Sikh is more easily and deeply moved by Gurbani when engaged in congregational gatherings. For this reason, it is necessary for a Sikh to visit Gurdwara
Gurdwara
A Gurdwara , meaning the Gateway to the Guru, is the place of worship for Sikhs, the followers of Sikhism. A Gurdwara can be identified from a distance by tall flagpoles bearing the Nishan Sahib ....

. On joining the holy congregation, Sikhs should take part and obtain benefit from the joint study of the holy scriptures.
No one is to be barred from entering a Gurdwara regardless of their religious or regional background.

Service in Gurdwaras

During a service in Gurdwara and while in congregational sessions, only one activity should be done at a time in the hall in the presence of the Guru - performing kirtan, delivering of discourse, interpretative elaboration of the scriptures or the reading of the scriptures.

Kirtan

Only Shabads from Gurbani(hymns from Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

) and the compositions of Bhai Gurdas
Bhai Gurdas
Bhai Gurdas was a Punjabi Sikh writer, historian, preacher and religious figure. He was the original scribe of the Guru Granth Sahib and a companion of four of the Sikh Gurus.-Early life:...

 and Bhai Nand Lal, can be performed within a Gurdwara. It is improper to sing hymns to rhythmic folk tunes or popular film tunes.

Ardas & Hukamnama

Before taking a Hukam(commandments) from the Guru, an Ardas
Ardas
The Ardās is a Sikh prayer that is done before performing or after undertaking any significant task; after reciting the daily Banis ; or completion of a service like the Paath , kirtan program or any other religious program. In Sikhism, these prayers are also said before and after eating...

(Prayer) must be read by someone where all the congregation must stand for the complete Ardas and then sit down to carefully listen to the discourse and commands.

Akhand Paath and Sadharan Paath

Akhand Paath: Is the non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

 carried on during difficult times or during occasions of joy and celebration. The reading takes approximately forty eight hours of continuous and uninterrupted reading by a relay of skilled Gurbani readers. The reading must done in a clear voice and with correct and full pronunciation.
Sadharan Paath
Sadharan Paath
Sahej Paath or Sadharan Paath or even "Khula Paath" literally means easy or simple recitation. It is a Paath which can started and ended at any time; with as many or as few people participating as desired...

: This is a non-continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

 and one can take from seven days to many months to complete the full reading of the 1430 pages of the text.

Sikh Ceremonies within the Gurdwara

  • Baby Naming Ceremony (Naam Karan
    Naam Karan
    Naam Karan is a Sikh ceremony of naming a child and it usually takes place in a Gurdwara after the baby and mother are medically and physically healthy to attend the Gurdwara. There is no timetable for this and the family should not feel undue pressure of any kind and only the well being of the...

    )
  • Baptism Ceremony (Amrit Sanchar)
  • Marriage Ceremony (Anand Karaj
    Anand Karaj
    Anand Karaj is the Sikh marriage ceremony, meaning "Blissful Union" or "Joyful Union", that was introduced by Guru Amar Das. The four Lavan were composed by his successor, Guru Ram Das...

    )
  • Funeral Ceremony (Antim Sanskar)
  • Other Rites and Conventions

Voluntary Service (Seva
Seva
Seva may refer to:*Volunteer work; selfless service; work offered to God *Seva , in Indian cuisine, a snack food made by deep-frying strands of chick pea flour dough flavored with chili powder, salt, and sometimes coriander...

)

Seva
Seva
Seva may refer to:*Volunteer work; selfless service; work offered to God *Seva , in Indian cuisine, a snack food made by deep-frying strands of chick pea flour dough flavored with chili powder, salt, and sometimes coriander...

 is an important and prominent part of the Sikh religion and all Sikhs must get involved in this communal service whenever an opportunity arises. This in its simple forms can be: sweeping and washing the floors of the Gurdwara, serving water and food (Langar) to or fanning the congregation, offering provisions or preparing food and doing other 'house keeping' duties.

Communal Life & Other Matters

Sikhism offers strong support for a healthy communal life and a Sikh must undertake to support all worthy projects which would benefit the community and promote Sikh principles. Importance is given to Inter-faith dialogue, support for the poor and weak; better community understanding and co-operation.

Learning and other facilities

Many gurdwaras also have other facilities for Sikhs to learn more about their religion, such as libraries, complexes for courses in Gurmukhi (Sikh script), Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

 and Sikh scriptures
Sikh scriptures
The principal Sikh scripture is the Adi Granth , more commonly called the Guru Granth Sahib. The Sikhs do not regard this as their "holy book" but as their perpetual and current "Guru", Guide or Master...

, meeting rooms, and room-and-board accommodation for those who need it.
Gurdwaras are open to all people of all religions and are generally open all hours of a day. Some gurdwaras also provide temporary accommodations (serais) for visitors or devotees. The gurdwara also serves as a community centre and a guest house for travellers, occasionally a clinic, and a base for local charitable activities. Apart from morning and evening services, the gurdwaras hold special congregations to mark important anniversaries on the Sikh calendar. They become scenes of much éclat and festivity during celebrations in honour of the birth anniversaries of the Gurus and Vaisakhi
Vaisakhi
Vaisakhi is an ancient harvest festival celebrated across North Indian states, especially Punjab by all Punjabis regardless of religion. In Sikhism the Khalsa was founded on same day as the Vaisakhi festival, so Sikhs celebrate twice as much....

.

See also

  • List of Gurdwaras
  • Gurdwaras in India
  • Sikhism
    Sikhism
    Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

  • Guru Granth Sahib
    Guru Granth Sahib
    Sri Guru Granth Sahib , or Adi Granth, is the religious text of Sikhism. It is the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text of 1430 angs, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708...

  • List of Sikh festivals

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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